Strategies & Tactics

3 Ways to Turn Data Into Stories

June 27, 2018


As counterintuitive as it may sound, when dealing with data, one of the most important things to remember is that numbers alone don’t tell stories — but people can tell stories using numbers.

Sure, sometimes a trend line moving up or down is so revelatory that a narrative practically writes itself. And occasionally, you might stumble across an unexpected bit of data that flashes at you like a bright neon sign saying, “You can stop looking now. I’m right here.” But rarely is data so attention-grabbing.

It doesn’t take a special skill to spot outliers in a set of numbers; just throw some conditional formatting into Microsoft Excel, and the figures that stand out on either end of the spectrum will be automatically highlighted in red or green. Although, in the world of insights, that automatic attention is not where the work ends, but where it begins.

Pulling real, human insights out of data — intelligence that leads to powerful, memorable stories and communications campaigns — requires more than just plugging numbers into software. We must decide which data to prioritize and which to ignore, and then decipher how and why certain dots connect. And then we have to use all of that research to tell a story about our product or service.

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